President Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday told the interim Chairman of the newly-registered All Progressives Congress, Chief Bisi Akande, to respect his age.
The President’s admonition was in reaction to Akande’s description of Jonathan as an unserious-minded person running a kindergarten government.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, the President said it was “certainly rude, ill-mannered, uncharitable and hypocritical” for Akande to describe him on Saturday in such an uncharitable manner.
The statetement was titled,“President Jonathan to Akande: Respect the truth, your age and Nigeria.”
The statement pointed out that Akande did no justice to his age and status when he resorted to “propagating falsehood, wilfully insulting the President of his country, impugning his integrity and desecrating the office which his party wishes to take over in 2015 by fair or foul means.”
It reads in part, “We have noted with dismay, the continuation of efforts by leaders of the opposition to promote themselves and their party through the irresponsible denigration of President Jonathan and the exalted office of the President.
“The interim national chairman of the APC, Chief Akande sank to a new low in this regard when he rudely and falsely described President Jonathan as a ‘kindergarten’ leader who treats national issues with levity.
“We urge Chief Akande and his fellow-travellers to remember that there are laws against libel and defamation of character in this country even if there are no legal impediments to indecorous, hypocritical and unpatriotic vituperations.
“It is certainly rude, ill-mannered, uncharitable and hypocritical for Chief Akande to falsely and cavalierly allege that a President who toils tirelessly every day of the week, evolving and implementing workable solutions to Nigeria’s problems, is handling national issues with levity.
“By his very unguarded and intemperate outburst, Chief Akande exhibited not only an unbecoming lack of respect for the person and office of the President of his country, but also a complete disregard for the patriotic feelings of the millions of Nigerians who voted for President Jonathan and who continue to appreciate his sincere efforts to positively transform the nation.
“It is very sad and unfortunate that unbridled ambition for the office they constantly impugn and denigrate has blinded Chief Akande and his ilk to the visible accomplishments of the Jonathan Presidency.”
“Our advice to the APC is this: treat your party like a democratic association and don’t mistake it for the Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) that someone used to force his way to power.”
The statement added that nothing else but “a manic and unscrupulous quest for power” could have led Akande to make such accusations against a President who, amongst other significant achievements, has been praised for his handling of the insurgency in some parts of Northern Nigeria.”
The Peoples Democratic Party was also not left out in defending the President as it alleged that the main agenda of Akande and other prominent members of the APC was to liquidate the nation’s economy.
Okeke said that Akande and el-Rufai were aggrieved because of the refusal of the President to join the APC when he was invited.
Advising Nigerians not to take the two APC chiefs seriously, he wondered why Akande, at his age, would be making such a statement about the President.
He said, “Chief Akande ought to be a man we would all respect because of his age. When they went and formed the APC, we advised them to focus on the economy and security and not name-calling. But unfortunately, it is sad that they are resorting to name-calling and abusing the President.
“We have no time for such banal talks from these people. This was a man (Akande) who was begging the President last week to come and join their party (APC). Now, he has realised that the President has rejected the offer and that is why he is bellyaching. It is a shame.”
On el-Rufai,whom he described as a bitter loser, Okeke said “it is when he is discharged and acquitted of the corruption case against him that we would be talking to him.”
Akande however reacted swiftly to the comment by the Presidency, saying the Jonathan administration had done grave damage to the country’s economy, through rudderless governance.
“Nigerians know who is doing damage to the economy. Nigerians know who is tying down development through visionless, inept, corrupt, directionless and ineffective leadership,” he said through his Media Assistant, Mr Lani Baderinwa, on Sunday.
The former Osun State governor maintained that Jonathan lacked solution to the challenges facing the country.
He argued that insecurity, unemployment, infrastructural decay, despair and poverty remained the greatest problems of Nigerians despite counter claims by the Presidency.
“The Presidency should talk on the basis of facts and not rub salt into injury by trying to pull the wool over the eyes of Nigerians with these tantrums and hysteria,” Akande added.
The Presidency also issued another statement in which it took a swipe at el-Rufai, a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, for accusing Jonathan of playing ethnic and religious politics in order to divert attention from his bad governance.
It said in the statement by Abati, that el-Rufai’s latest comment, like others before it, only showed that he was a serial liar.
The Presidency added that it was wrong for el-Rufai to accuse the President of playing religious and ethnic politics when he (The President), though a Christian, took part in the just-concluded Ramadan fast and broke his fast with Muslim faithful every evening.
It said no Nigerian leader had spent the quantum of funds that Jonathan had spent on education specifically tailored for Islamic itinerant scholars known as the almajiris.
The statement added, “It is most curious that this allegation is coming from el-Rufai, a man who profaned the name of Jesus Christ on Twitter by tweeting a joke which is too indecent to mention in the presence of civilised persons. This same el-Rufai is the same man who in June of last year claimed that Christians were behind the bombings of their own churches rather than terrorists.
“It is only a measure of his inconsistency that el-Rufai is today accusing the Presidency of being afraid of Buhari whom the same el-Rufai said was ‘perpetually unelectable”. In fact, the accusation el-Rufai is now making against the President is precisely the same accusation he made against Buhari on October 4, 2010 when he said Buhari’s ‘insensitivity to Nigeria’s diversity and his parochial focus are already well-known’. Today, El-Rufai is serving this same Buhari.
“That el-Rufai is not above lying to the media to achieve his political objective was proven in Segun Adeniyi’s book, ‘Power, Politics and Death’ when El-Rufai was quoted to have confessed in the presence of multiple witnesses who are still alive today that ‘There was no cabal, we created the myth to neutralise Turai’(widow of former President Umaru Yar’Adua). El-Rufai sold Nigerians the dummy of a Turai cabal which was a lie used to further his own political ends.
“In any case, we have a record of what El-Rufai truly thinks of President Jonathan from the leaked secret diplomatic memo from the U.S. embassy in Abuja which revealed that just before the April 2007 Presidential election El-Rufai had told the then U.S. ambassador to Nigeria that the then Vice Presidential candidate, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, was ‘clean and honest’.”